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The Verve Pipe: Freshmen Meaning

Freshmen Lyrics

When I was young I knew everything
She a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I'm guilt stricken,
Sobbing with my head on the floor
Stop a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice

I can't be held responsible
She was touching her face


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    Nov 30th, 2006 11:07am report

    In 2001, Brian Vander Ark explained what the song means to him:
    WHEN I WAS YOUNG I KNEW EVERYTHING. We all think we know everything at a young age. I thought I did. I realize I didn't know sh*t until I was 36. AND SHE, A PUNK, WHO RARELY TOOK ADVICE. How many people do we know like that? NOW I'M GUILT STRICKEN, SOBBING, WITH MY HEAD ON THE FLOOR. Something happened, that caused this reaction, but I wouldn't want to give that away this early in the song, so let's through in an some ambiguity: STOP A BABY'S BREATH, AND A SHOE FULL OF RICE, NO. First of all, forget the NO. Stop a baby's breath is just that. Abort the baby. A shoe full of rice is a result of a wedding. So - stop a baby's breath AND then you stop a wedding. She's pregnant, get her to abort, and then there's no wedding. And you know what? I CAN'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE, CAUSE SHE WAS TOUCHING HER FACE. When I wrote this song, The Divinyls had a song out called I touch myself. The TV was on, she was touching her face in the video. Very sexy. So, I can't be held responsible because she was trying to be sexy, trying to seduce me, etc. I WON'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE, SHE FELL IN LOVE IN THE FIRST PLACE. I didn't tell her to fall in love. FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT MADE US THINK THAT WE WERE WISE, AND WE'D NEVER COMPROMISE. What was I thinking back then. Who am I to put a girl though that? Why was I unable to compromise? Guilty feelings. FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I CANNOT BELIEVE WE'D EVER DIE FOR THESE SINS, WE WERE MERELY FRESHMEN. We were just kids, let it go, we all make mistakes, etc. MY BEST FRIEND TOOK A WEEKS VACATION TO FORGET HER. He needed to get away because of what happened. HIS GIRL TOOK A WEEK'S WORTH OF VALIUM AND SLEPT. This is why this song is not that strong literally - it's confusing. HIS girl is MY girl. The same girl that had the abortion has now killed herself. NOW HE'S GUILT-STRICKEN SOBBING WITH HIS HEAD ON THE FLOOR, THINKS ABOUT HER NOW AND HOW HE NEVER REALLY WEPT HE SAYS. He has the same guilty feelings that I do about the abortion and death. WE TRIED TO WASH OUR HANDS OF ALL OF THIS, WE NEVER TALK OF OUR LACKING RELATIONSHIPS. We rarely spoke after the incident - we just tried to forget it. We never spoke of her or the fact that we can't have a decent relationship with anyone since then. WE FELL THROUGH THE ICE WHEN WE TRIED NOT TO SLIP. No matter how careful you might be, there are other perils out there.
    The girl is real, the abortion is real. The death is not. It's poetic license--to make the story more interesting.


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    May 7th, 2013 5:22pm report

    Somebody else had an interpretation about an abortion which I've heard before, but this has always been my take on it:

    A group of college freshman away from home for the first time go too wild with the partying (as is common) and one of their friends accidentally dies of an overdose/commits suicide as a result, maybe following a breakup.

    This friend has a traumatic/poverty stricken background (maybe saw a younger sibling or other young relative die "stop a baby's breath", had been on the verge of starvation growing up "a shoe full of rice" or was otherwise living in miserable conditions)

    Each remaining friend has a bad case of survivors guilt, secretly blaming themself for not recognizing signs of depression in "her," or being more careful or vigilant while partying, so while each claims they "can't be held responsible," all the remaining friends blame themselves for her death, and feel they carelessly lost their friend all for a night of fun, rather than realizing that there were deeper-seated reasons for the suicide.


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    Jul 16th, 2007 7:04pm report

    Ok, the person that interpreted at the time, 2007-06-22 16:23:51 you are an idiot. The person who wrote the song just explained what the song means. READ! p.s. Thanks for the interpretation from the writer, I have always wondered what the hell it was talking about when it says; "cause she was touching her face."

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jun 22nd, 2007 6:23pm report

    It took me A few years to figure it out but I believe the song is about his girlfriend having an abortion and then overdosing on pills. He is trying to not feel guilty about it, but he does.


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    Jun 21st, 2007 6:42am report

    Wow- that second interpretation was really good...I've always wondered what the heck was going on in that song and your description made a lot of sense.


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    Nov 25th, 2006 11:47am report

    This song isn't literally about being a freshman, it's referring to that time when you felt indestructible and thought you had the world figured out when in actuality you didn't know shit. "when I was young I knew everything...."

    This song is a reflection of the selfish immature acts committed during those years. It's trying to alleviate the overwhelming feelings of guilt by justification. "now I'm guilt stricken sobbing with my head on the floor...."

    Years later these events are still haunting him and he knows his actions were wrong. So in order to move on with his life he's trying to convince himself he can't be held responsible for things he did when he was so young and stupid.
    The guy in the song had a girlfriend back in high school who he broke up with and went on a vacation to forget her and she over dosed and killed herself on valume. He knows what he did is wrong so he attempts to justify it to himself. "try to wash our hands of all of this. we never talk of our lacking relationships.... we fell through the ice when we tried not to slip we'd say can't be held responsible.... I won't be held responsible, she fell in love in the first place."
    here he knows he is guilty for her suicide, but isn't willing to own up to it because it's too difficult.

    So this song is about a man's struggle with his own past and an over-riding inner guilt, which will never stop haunting him until he can admit to it. He's unable to do so, so he unsuccessfully attempts to justify it, resulting in him being forever tortured by these memories.

    trying to alleviate the guilt they feel from naive mistakes
    paying the consequences for younger actions
    like a couple breaking up and the girl od'ing
    "for the life of me I can not believe we'd ever die for these sins we were only freshman"

    "try to wash our hands of all of this"

    pushing off blame "can't be held responsible" don't talk about it

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